The New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday again invoked its little-known Rule 48 in advance of a rocky market opening. Traders on Wall Street were responding to another drop in the Chinese stock market and further fears of a factory slowdown in Asia.
The Rule 48 regulation was approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2007 and is meant to help the market in times of extreme volatility. By suspending a requirement that stock prices be disseminated at the market's open, the idea is to speed up the opening and reduce instability.
But like any sign that there are doubts in the market, the invocation of Rule 48 can introduce its own uncertainty into trading. It's sort of a chicken and the egg thing: Do traders respond to the invocation of Rule 48 by selling, or is the market heading down already and Rule 48 is just a flag thrown on the way down? In any case, when Rule 48 is called it can mean rough trading on the Big Board.
The S&P 500 has a median return of negative 1.14 percent on days that Rule 48 has been invoked, according to data from market research firm Kensho.